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The longer I am part of the SAP Community Network (SCN), the more I see this community as a second home. Yes, I am fortunate to work for the Community, so that is one obvious reason. I’m going to share a few more examples of why I can relate to SCN.

 

One of the things that make SCN successful is that it is an “Open House.” According to a 2009 report by the Altimeter Group, one of SCN’s best practices is to “Open the platform to anyone and everyone.” You don’t even have to be a member to view all the content and conversations that the community has to share. (Of course, the free membership does have its perks including participation in discussion forums and building an online reputation.) It’s obvious this Open House-everyday concept works, and over 20-30K new members are joining us every month.

 

This notion of an “Open House” also affects the way I engage community members and the community at large. Rather than be a Community Manager, I’m preferring to play the part of a Community Host at this Open House. All along, I’ve been giving those I speak to a ‘guided tour’ of SCN and the BusinessObjects community (now Business Analytics community). Other community hosts like me are more inclined to point out special features, than to tell folks to take off their shoes or snap out “you can’t go into that room!”

 

Of course, that’s not what online community managers do per se, but I think you’ll understand that the term ‘management’ has connotations of establishing control and setting restrictions – whereas SCN’s approach is to be inclusive. Anyone with “Community Manager” in their title might want to revise this in favour of something more supportive (as you can see, I’ve drunken the Servant Leadership Kool-Aid again – not a bad thing once in a while).

 

Now, back to restrictive communities vs. inclusive communities. If there is good reason and value for a restrictive community, then by all means do this. At SCN, we say “Welcome!” to our guests and members. We don’t have walls to keep others out or for anyone to write on – we try to keep the floor plan as open as possible. We don’t force anyone to wear a name tag, but certainly encourage our members to introduce themselves, and write their names on their cups (just in case anyone unintentionally or intentionally takes a sip from your cup – *hint hint*).

 

Since I’ve used the analogy of SCN as a house, I can also see Better. Faster. Stronger.   The SAP Community Network … Coming Soon on a New, Modern Platform! of SCN’s migrating to the Jive platform as moving to a new home. At the same time I’m writing this, I am also planning to move to another house. I can really sympathize with many members who may have a hard time leaving things behind, like many of the fixtures we’re use to seeing. For example, I spent many weekends building this staircase (right), for example. But leave it we must.

 

Luckily, there are many things that not attached or hard-wired, and can be brought over to our new home (like my kids’ hand-painted growth charts). In the case of SCN, the content and points history that many of us have generated will also be migrated.

 

Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference! For me, I’m looking forward to a home office. For our fellow SCN members, it might be seeing only the Jive 5 and SCN: The Right Content to the Right Person at the Right Time most to you.

 

Some wise person (Heraclitus?) said that “Change is the only constant.” So I ask, rather than brace for change, why not embrace change? This is a different stance that may not be natural or comfortable for all.  There are various low-touch ways to influence SCN today, such as Idea Place, or high-touch ways such as working directly with our administrators (hosts). As we move to Jive, we will be calling for more community input and participation. I hope you join in and speak up.

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11 Comments

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  1. Tom Cenens
    Hello Jason

    I’m constantly changing things at home, installing a new bathroom, a new roof etc etc. I think this is very typical for homes, change is neccesary every X years and the same is valid for SCN. Change is a neccesity to keep things fresh and innovating.

    I’m looking forward to the Jive platform and I surely want to go on participating in the discussion around SCN and it’s changes.

    Kind regards

    Tom

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    1. Jason Cao Post author
      Hi Tom,
      I agree that change is a necessity, especially for SCN in the digital context. Sounds like you may be quite a handyman, and definitely love your home too!
      Thanks for joining us on this ride!
      Cheers,
      Jason
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  2. Sylvia Santelli
    I really enjoyed this analogy. All things in life change, including ourselves, and as you stated, it is the only constant in our lives. We have had great memories and learning opportunities here, but with the migration to JIVE we give ourselves even more opportunities to grow.

    Afterall, a home isn’t built out of wood and stone, but is created out of relationships that matter.(cheesy I know).

    I’m looking forward to this next phase.

    -Sylvia

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    1. Jason Cao Post author
      Yah, cheesy, but I happen to love cheese! Thanks for the positive feedback!

      We surely do have great opportunities to learn more by using the latest and most suitable platform for our community. There are some out of the box features we can use right away, but the opportunity to create new and closer relationships with one another creates a new dimension of possibilities that transcends what simple UX and tool features can deliver (fluffy I know).

      Cheers,
      Jason

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  3. John Kleeman
    Jason

    Thank you for a nice post. I think the open house analogy is very good and is one of the great strengths of SCN. It’s mostly of interest to SAP ecosystem but anyone can come in when they want, and it’s open, honest, has occasional disagreements but is on the whole very positive.

    I think SCN is a fantastic community, without parallel in other companies, and thanks for helping caretake.

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    1. Jason Cao Post author
      Hi John,
      Thanks very much for your kind words! I’ve used other analogies for SCN in the past (such as a living forest), but the open and inclusive aspects of SCN are most noticeable to all users, members or not.

      I agree that SCN is a fantastic community. We have different roles within the community, and I especially appreciate the importance that each role plays within the ecosystem. Without contributors like you, there wouldn’t be me.

      Regards,
      Jason

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  4. Michelle Crapo
    I love that part.  SCN is so great because anyone can see / use the data.  Usually that’s the way involvement starts.  Then start to answer question, blog, wiki…  Ok maybe we all don’t do that.  But it makes it easy to move to from being a guest to a builder of the house.

    After I read this blog, I think, yes SCN is the house.  But as a community working together to build that house.  (The house is huge!)  So SCN changes EVERY day.  Based upon the content added.  But the tools – we don’t have the newer tools.  If they never change then it becomes cumbersome to keep building the house.  We are working with the old break a branch and rope it together to build with. (Not really that bad.  But you get the idea.)  So maybe it’s a hand saw.

    So Jive.  We are giving ourselves some really COOL tools.  A computer to help with blueprints, a chain saw, some nail guns, and more!  Now WE CAN REALLY BUILD something.   New tools = A faster easier way to contribute to building our house.  (SCN)  I can’t wait to start using them.

    But when you use a new tool it takes awhile to learn.   Also some of the old tools work really well still.  So hopefully those will stay.  

    Love the way of thinking – THIS HAS BEEN A GREAT BLOG DAY!  

    BR,

    Michelle

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    1. Jason Cao Post author
      Michelle,
      I just love your analogy of the set of tools (eg. a tool box) needed to repair, build on, and improve this ‘house.’ Your description of adding newer and more effective tools to the collection reminds me of Stephen Covey’s habit to “sharpen the saw.” Covey refers to us as the saw, but in this case I can see how features of SCN also need to be sharpened to make it easier for community members to engage with each other. Nice!

      Hope to catch up with you again at TechEd (love your recent post as well of reasons not to attend TechEd).

      Regards,
      Jason

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  5. Simon To
    It is the wonderful people on SCN that makes SCN great. I really excited about moving to the Jive platform.
    The next thing the SCN team needs to tackle is to come up with a mobile app for SCN. 🙂 If Bill McDermott has been telling us that mobility is the future, SCN should take the lead.
    Thanks.
    simon
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